Over emergency contraception, of course.
Here’s the background: Senators Clinton and Murray (yeah Washington State) brokered a deal with the White House to quit blocking Bush’s nominee for head of the FDA in exchange for a ruling on over-the-counter sales of Plan B. The senators stepped aside, and Lester Crawford was confirmed. Shortly afterward, he announced that his agency was finally taking action on Plan B — by indefinitely postponing a decision.
The latest development in the Plan B battle reveals more than just the administration’s dishonesty, though. It shows how much the Bush White House remains in the clutches of the right’s most extreme elements.
Many pro-lifers are in favor of putting Plan B over the counter — after all, it could prevent hundreds of thousands of abortions every year. That’s something we can all agree is good, right?
That benefit has been lost as the Plan B battle has played out. Opponents describe the pill as tantamount to an abortion—it is not, according to medical definitions—and they complain it will encourage promiscuity among young girls. The most outspoken critic, the right-wing Concerned Women for America, has fired off a dizzying array of objections. The group insists it is worried about the long-term safety of the pill, no matter what scientists say. In the 33 countries where Plan B is available without a prescription, CWA argues, a handful of studies have shown a rise in sexually transmitted infections. It has even equated the drug to “a pedophile’s best friend,” imagining that a child rapist could slip the pill to a girl to “hide” his crime.
That such extreme views have gained traction with the FDA has frustrated Plan B proponents. Asked how abortion politics has colored the debate, for instance, [Princeton University Professor James] Trussell has a hard time hiding his disdain. “There are no two sides to this issue,” he says. “What those people are spouting is their political ideology, not science. It’s just nonsense.”
The Voice article also includes a great quote from Steve Gilliard:
Every time you try to find common ground with these folks [the anti-choice right], they raise the stakes. “First they’re against abortion. Then they’re against contraception. Then they’re against pharmacists filling birth-control prescriptions.”
If the Plan B battle reveals anything, it’s that the opponents’ real agenda is not to prevent unintended pregnancy and abortion. If that were so, they would be for all forms of contraception. They’d be for better sex education. They’d be for more family-planning counseling. “The problem is the right doesn’t want greater access to birth control,” Gilliard says, “and their opposition to Plan B proves it.”
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